Great games that you've probably never played

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Sometimes great games can fall under our radar or become overshadowed by the release of bigger, more popular titles. The following is a list of games that were overlooked by most gamers. I've limited this list to commercial releases, choosing to exclude indie games as they already have a limited market. 

Image source: Giant Bomb

Psychonauts, PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox (2005)

Psychonauts is a platformer created by legendary video game designer, Tim Schafer and his studio, Double Fine. The game focuses on Raz, a young boy with powerful psychic abilities, who joins a summer camp designed for kids with similar psychic abilities. Of course, not all is what it seems at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, when Raz discovers a mischievous plot brewing in the confines of the camp.

Psychonauts was highly praised by critics for its writing, characters, humor, and highly imaginative design specifically the varying unique themes of each level. It is often cited as one of Schaefer's more memorable creations.

So what happened?

Unfortunately, much like Schaefer's other titles, this one had a hard time finding an audience. Upon initial release, the game had sold fewer than 100,000 copies. However, in recent years, Double Fine has acquired the rights to digital distribution for the game allowing gamers to experience one of Schaefer's best quirky titles. 

Image source: Giant Bomb

EarthBound, SNES (1995)

Of course, nowadays a lot of gamers have heard of EarthBound, but how many have actually played it during its initial release? EarthBound is an RPG released for the SNES developed by Ape and Hal Laboratory. EarthBound centers on a group of kids joining together in an effort to save the world from the evil Giygas. 

EarthBound is definitely different from its RPG brethren through its use of quirky writing, humor, and utilization of traditional RPG elements set in a more real world environment. For example, instead of gold, hero Ness must access his bank account to retrieve cash sent to him by his distant dad. 

So what happened?

EarthBound, also known as Mother 2 in Japan, was primed for success with Nintendo providing a $2 million dollar marketing campaign for the game. The campaign reflected the game's quirky sense of humor by boldly proclaiming "this game stinks" and including smelly scratch and sniff cards with each game copy. 

However, despite Nintendo's efforts, EarthBound failed upon initial release selling around 140,000 copies. The bizarre marketing campaign as well as poor reviews from critics, remarking on the game's cartoonish graphics and humor, could have possibly been the cause for EarthBound's initial failure.

Although, the game does now have a strong cult following among gamers. In addition, EarthBound was also recently added to Nintendo's eShop store.

Image source: Game Church

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, Xbox (2005)

For this title, developer Oddworld Inhabitants, decided to develop a first-person shooter instead of the more familiar puzzle games featuring their mascot, Abe. The game focuses on Stranger, a bounty hunter, on the quest to capture various outlaws for cash.

Much different than its predecessors, Stranger's Wrath focused on its shooting mechanics. In fact, one of its more prominent features was that of live ammunition. Stranger could load crossbow with various weird creatures to inflict different types of damage on his enemies. The game received tons of critical praise citing its impeccable, creative design and fun gameplay.

So what happened?

On initial release, Stranger's Wrath did not sell many units causing the PlayStation 2 version of the game to be cancelled. The creator of Oddworld, Lorne Lanning, citied poor marketing as the cause of this game's poor sales

However, a HD release of Stranger's Wrath was released in 2011 allowing gamers to try out this crazy first-person shooter that they probably missed the first time around.

Image source: Euro Gamer

Vanquish, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (2010)

Developed by PlatinumGames (yes, the people who made Bayonetta!), this fast-paced third person shooter let gamers assume the role of Sam Gideon, a DARPA agent with a slight resemblance to Solid Snake. 

The gameplay was centered around Sam's Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) which allowed for interesting gameplay mechanics. Sam's suit could slow down time to allow for extra time to kill enemies, boost him quickly across the battlefield, and incorporate different types of weaponry. The game's innovative mechanics awarded it high praise from critics.

So what happened? 

Although its sales were not as disappointing as other titles on the list, Vanquish simply became overlooked by gamers. PlatinumGames' other title, Bayonetta, overshadows this innovative and fast-paced shooter. However, Vanquish was released alongside Fallout: New Vegas which could have allowed for it to fall off of gamers' radar.

Image source: Euro Gamer

Armed and Dangerous, Xbox (2003)

Definitely the most overlooked game on this list, Planet Moon Studios' third-person comedic shooter is virtually unknown to gamers. The game centers around a thief named Roman and his group of ragtag thieves known as the Lionhearts.

Although marked down for its linearity, the game received high praise for its hilarious writing, clever weaponry, and use of destructible environments.

So what happened?

It's hard to find a reason as why Armed and Dangerous was not embraced by gamers. The game did receive very little marketing and it is likely the game's British style of humor did not translate well to American gamers, but it still does not explain why this little gem is so unknown.

Image source: IGN

Bulletstorm, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 (2011)

Developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games, this crazy first-person shooter failed to deliver the sales of Epic Games' massive hit, Gears of War. Unlike Gears, the game relies heavily on humor. In fact, the game opens with our hero, Grayson Hunt, drunkenly shooting an enemy spaceship causing the events of the game to be set into motion.

The core of Bulletstorm's gameplay was the "skillshot" system. This system relied on the player to kill enemies in creative ways to garner points to increase their overall score. Overall, the game was a critical success as its innovative "skillshot" system and shooting mechanics were often praised. 

So what happened?

Selling just under a million copies, Bulletstorm failed to turn a profit for Epic Games. In turn, a planned sequel for the game was canned. With the success of Gears of Wars, its unusual how Bulletstorm did not garner the attention of gamers.

Image source: Cinema Blend

Remember Me, PC, PlayStation 3, & Xbox 360 (2013)

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, this action-adventure science fiction game focused on memory hunter, Nilin, as she attempts to recover her lost memories. 

The gameplay consists of a variety of elements including platforming and beat 'em up. Although the gameplay wasn't that highly praised, except for the innovative Memory Remix segments, critics did enjoy the game's story, main character, music, and overall design.

So what happened?

It is likely the lukewarm reviews of this game attributed to its poor sales. Despite this, however, Dontnod is planning a sequel. After completion of their episodic drama, Life is Strange, Dontnod plans to begin work on Remember Me 2. Let's hope they improve on the faults of the original and hold onto the Memory Remix segments.

Image source: Video Game Writers


Sleeping Dogs, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 (2012)

Developed by United Front Games and Square Enix London, this open-world action game focuses on Wei Shen, an uncover Hong Kong police officer who is attempting to infiltrate the Triads.

The gameplay is similar to Grand Theft Auto in that Shen can procure different vehicles, carry different types of guns, and free-roam the massive city of Hong Kong. However, Sleeping Dogs does emphasize melee combat a la Arkham Asylum. Ultimately, the game was well-received by critics who enjoyed exploring Hong Kong as well as the variety of gameplay elements.

So what happened?

This one is a bit weird. Although the game did sell reasonably well, selling 1.5 million copies in total, publisher Square Enix labeled the game as a flop along with other titles Tomb Raider and Hitman

Perhaps Square Enix was expecting the game make GTA-like numbers, failing to make realistic projections for this title and the others. It's unfortunate as this will likely hinder any possibilities of a sequel.

Image source: Hidden Gem Games

Shadows of the Damned, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (2011)

Developed by Suda51 and his studio, Grasshopper Manufacture, this strange and quirky third-person shooter is highly inspired by horror films. The player controls Garcia Hotspur, a Mexican demon hunter who literally goes through Hell to save his girlfriend. However, he's not alone; Garcia is accompanied by his smart-mouthed, shape-shifting companion known as Johnson.

Shadows of the Damned plays as a standard shooter except with the added ability of Johnson to turn into different weapons on the fly. Also, Garcia must solve various "darkness" puzzles in order to make it through Hell. The game received mostly high praise with its humor and gunplay variety citied as its main high points.

So what happened?

It's no surprise the game only managed to sell 24,000 units in the United States. Often titles, such as Shadows of the Damned, are unfortunately easily overlooked by gamers. It seems Suda51 and his quirky creations have a very niche audience.

Image source: Bloody Disgusting

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 (2010)

For me, the most disappointing entry of this list. 

Developed by Ninja Theory, this action-adventure platformer was a re-imagining of the classic story, Journey to the West. If you don't know the story, its the same story that was used to inspire Dragonball. The player controls Monkey, performed by mo-cap king Andy Serkis, as he and his companion, Trip, must journey across a post-apocalyptic environment.

The gameplay incorporates various elements such as close-combat and platforming traversal. Additionally, the player can occasionally play as Trip in order to solve certain puzzles or get through difficult obstacles.

So what happened?

Despite receiving critical acclaim from critics, Enslaved failed to meet Namco's sales goal of 1 million units. Due to this, a planned sequel was cancelled. Although its 730,000 sold units is admirable, it does not look like we'll see another adventure with Monkey and Trip anytime soon.


Image source: Destructoid

Like Buzz Buzz, this article has met its end. 

Did I leave out any of your favorite forgotten gaming gems? If so, let me know in the comments!

Image source: Destructoid

Published Sep. 7th 2015

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